Do female doctors hurt physician productivity?

It’s a sensitive subject, previously broached by a Canadian magazine last year.

Now, to pour fuel onto the fire, a recent report finds that, in Canada at least, the growth of female physicians will cause a doctor shortage equivalent to 1,600 physicians over the next decade.

It’s a fact that female doctors work less clinical hours than their male counterparts. According to this article, “women, on average, provided 30 hours a week of direct patient care, compared to 35 from men, a result of female doctors – still burdened disproportionately with child rearing and other domestic tasks – doing less on-call work and being more likely to take leaves.”

But, as the deans of prominent Canadian medical schools have written, playing a “sexist blame game” isn’t productive.

The current generation of doctors, both men and women, place a significant priority on lifestyle, and that means less productivity across the board.

Knowing that the demand for medical care will only increase as the growing population ages, rather than singling out women doctors, why not simply produce more doctors to compensate for work-life balance that every physician deserves?

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  • Ann Merritt MD

    This is misleading! You are leaving out one very important factor. Women doctors live longer than men doctors ( like women and men in general) and are less likely to have to retire early due to disability, so they make up for working fewer hours while raising a family by working more, on average, later in life.

  • MDNewsJax

    Maybe if all husbands (including physician husbands) stepped up to the plate things would even out for that beloved work/balance myth.

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  • Anonymous

    I cannot think of more than two (of about a hundred) of my female medical school colleagues that work AT ALL, let alone work 30 hours/week.

    I think this issue has been long ignored, as is the issue of admitting older students to medical school for a second career. Both of these phenomena will not help the predicted physician shortage.

  • To: Ann Merritt MD

    Women live longer, but that’s beside the point.

    If you read the actual article, which I have, you’ll see that they also found that women doctors retire earlier, take more vacation, more sick time, and more parental leave (for obvious reasons).

    And those data are not incorporated into the 1600/1800 doctors figure, which means the figure presented is in fact an underestimate of the discrepancy.

    Nice to see few people actually care about the facts.

    Let’s just get over ourselves, call a spade a spade, and deal with it!

    The first step to dealing with the issue is recognizing that there is an issue.

  • Russ Kennedy MD

    There is no point in even addressing this m/f issue. Its not going to change. Women will work less men will work more. There will always be less “doctor equivalents” in female graduates. There is no way that our society would tolerate accepting less women into med school no matter how good the reasoning was that they dont provide the same number of (forgive this!) “man-hours”. The only solution is to train more doctors, period.

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